Today, I’m interviewing Guatemalan crocheter Ana Contreras, the bilingual blogger behind Lanas & Hilos. I’m a big fan of Ana’s blog and the great pictures she shares of her projects. Ana, also known online as AnaBC on Ravelry, is also a crochet (and, occasionally, knitting) designer. Her patterns can be found online here. All pictures are used with Ana’s permission.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to crochet?
Ana: My mom taught me how to crochet and knit when I was a teenager. I continued learning through books and magazines. The funny thing is that now my mom calls me “teacher,” because I am sharing with her new techniques that I have been learning through my reading and internet research, which is mostly in English (and my mom is not so fluent in it).
Lately I have been crocheting more than knitting, maybe because I find it easier and faster. But I actually love both. Each has its own charm.
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Ana: I would define my inspiration in two words: easy and modern.
EASY. I confess I don’t like “difficult” when it comes my yarn crafts. It has to pleasurable for me…it is a hobby, not torture. Therefore, I am always looking for ways to make things easier and likable.
MODERN. I am always looking for modern options of classic or old-fashioned styles. Yarn pieces don’t have to be boring.
Both goals have kept my mind in a creative mode.
UC: Tell us about the crochet scene in Guatemala.
Ana: In general, here in Guatemala, crocheting and knitting are considered crafts for grandmothers and older people. But I think things are changing. Younger people are wanting to learn to knit or crochet, because nowadays there are more modern patterns and options in the yarn crafts. The yarn stores are now offering classes.
The problem that we have here in my country is that there are not many yarn stores; and the variety of yarn available is very poor. But we learn to work with what we have, and make the most of it. Personally, when I have the chance to travel, I love to make a stop at a yarn store and buy something special. (But, how much yarn can you bring in a suitcase? Not much!) (UC comment: I love visiting yarn shops when I travel, too! You can find shop reviews from my last trip here and here, and my Visitor’s Guide to New York City Yarn Shops here.)
UC: Tell us about your blog. Why did you decide on blogging in English and Spanish, and what are some of the challenges associated with bilingual blogging?
Ana: I started my blog a few years ago. I named it “Lanas & Hilos” which is Spanish for “Yarn and Thread.” I started blogging in Spanish, my native language. But later I started to connect and follow other bloggers in the world (from England, Germany, Holland, U.S., Canada, Israel, and Greece). Then I thought of adding an English version to connect and share with them.
I kept the Spanish version because I know many of my Latin friends don´t speak English. But adding English opened up the world for me.
UC: You have some great photos on your blog, and your own style of watermarking them that doesn’t look tacky. Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers, especially on photography for those who struggle with capturing those perfect pictures?
Ana: From experience, I have a few tips for new bloggers:
- Keep it clean and simple.
- Show big pictures and keep the text short. Most people don’t have the time to read long posts.
- Take your photos with lots of light, but not direct light. Later, you can always PhotoShop them. If you don´t have a computer program, there are a few free photo editors online, such as FotoFlexer, LunaPic, and PicMonkey (this last one is the one I usually use, and I love it). (UC comment: I use PicMonkey a lot too, and it is really fun!)
- Watermark your photos (with the photo editor), preferably with a fading effect in order not to spoil the picture. Believe it or not, people “steal” photos in the internet, and the watermarks is a deterrent.
- Share details of the pieces you are showing that might be interesting to readers, such as the pattern you used, and where you can get it, as well as yarn type, hook number, colors, etc.
UC: Do you have any favorite Spanish or English language crochet or craft blogs to share?
Ana: There are too many to even mention. Among my favorites are the ones I have on the sidebar of my blog.
I highly recommend searching blogs beyond “your circle of friends,” because there are a lot of new and interesting blogs opening every day. Side bars are very useful in this way. When you visit blogs, leave a comment. Many of them will visit your blog in turn, and that is a great way to meet new bloggers and make new friends. (UC comment: I completely agree. It’s actually through a German blogger, Barbara from Made in K-Town, that I discovered Ana’s blog. Barbara hosts a great monthly link party on The Crochet Boulevard and it is a great way to find crochet bloggers from all over the world.)
UC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Ana: Probably most people think of me as a crocheter, but I love knitting as well. Actually I have been working on a knit scarf pattern, and I will share it with all of you soon!
Thanks for stopping by, Ana, and we’re looking forward to seeing that new knitting pattern soon!